Stop me if you've heard this one before: a young, highly touted prospect is made a healthy scratch by his head coach for a perceived lack of effort.
If you're a fan of the Arizona Coyotes, you'd be forgiven for feeling a bit of deja vu. This time though, the drama is playing out not in Glendale, but in Quebec.
On Wednesday the Quebec Ramparts of the QMJHL made prospect Anthony Duclair a healthy scratch in a game against Shawinigan. The rationale, according to the organization, is that Duclair is not giving the team his best effort. For someone that figures to fit very prominently in Arizona's rebuild plans, that's concerning if true.
But before stories about "character issues" pick up too much steam, there are a lot of things swirling around the 19 year old. Duclair is third on his team in points per game (1.25) despite playing only 20 major-junior games this year. He began the season on the New York Rangers, and the team evidently thought so much of him that they used a year of his ELC by keeping him in the NHL for 18 games. The achievement, and subsequent demotion, is a lot for a young kid to stomach.
On top of that, Duclair took a break from the QMJHL season to participate in the 2015 World Junior Championship. He played seven games there against some of the best competition in the world, in front of his home country. Such an environment was undoubtedly highly stressful.
These may sound like excuses, and perhaps they are. It is worth noting that Duclair sounds nothing but excited to join the Coyotes and play with the likes of Max Domi and former Quebec teammate Louis Domingue. And if one thing is certain, it's that Dave Tippett, Don Maloney, and the rest of the Coyotes' coaching staff are going to make sure Duclair is accountable for his actions.
In reality, the first real litmus test of what the Coyotes think of Duclair was Don Maloney's willingness to part with Keith Yandle for him. Come training camp, he'll have more than his fair shot at making the NHL and sticking around. There really shouldn't be concern about Duclair's performance in Quebec before the coaching staff has a chance to work with him themselves.